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Collaborative Networked Learning(CNL) 


An Implemented Guide 

Educational Services Research and Development Group 

Date Issued: 31-October-1 

Prepared by: 

Charles Findley, R&D Project Leader 

Digital Equipment Corporation 

Collaborative Networked Learning 


Collaborative Networked Learning (CNL) is that learning which occurs via electronic 
dialogue between self-directed co-learners and learners and experts. Learners share a 
common purpose, depend upon each other and are accountable to each other for their 
success. CNL occurs in interactive groups in which participants actively communicate 
and negotiation meaning with one another. 

Important changes motivate the focus on CNL in this resource. Three 

factors underlie the thinking in the resource. 

1. CNL is sound educational practice. 

Researchers and educators have contrasted collaborative activities with 
two other categories- competitive and individualistic. Competitive 
activities, for example, include those in which only one person can 
win, or where learners compete for grades, rank, or status, rather 
than when all members focus on achieving mastery or competence. 
Individualistic activities, for example, include working in isolation 
with no interaction with others, or when a learner interacts only with 
a self-paced manual or CBI, rather than when all members share 
ideas with each other. 

The overwhelming conclusion of research in the goals of learning 
environments is that collaborative, cooperative goal directed activities 
lead to higher achievement. Overall higher achievement translates 
into higher productivity. 

2. CNL is sound business practice. 

Collaborative Networked Learning Overview 

Several major successful implementations of CNL directly involving 
Educational Services, Digital or Digital hardware and software products 
provide real-life examples of the guidelines in use. These are summarized in the 











2.1 .1 Purpose defined by organizer 

2.1 .2 Purpose defined by the group 

2.1.3 Purpose defined by on-going need 





nchronous and asynchronous 2-5 

2.5.2 Computer-mediated communication (CMC) 

2-6 Remote,distributed networks • 2-6 
2.522 Local computer networks • 2-7 

2.5.3 Audio Conferencing 2- 

7 AudJographte • 2-8 
2.5.32 Freeze-frame video • 2-6 Computer Audiographics • 2-0 

2.5.4 Videoconferencing 2-11 




3.1 .1 Context creation 3-2 

3.1 .2 Practical actions for the moderator or organizer 3-2 


3.2.1 Absolute Rules and Legal Regulations 3-3 

3.2.2 Guidelines 3-4 






4.3.1 Structuring the Interaction 

4.3.2 Maintain lively, focused discussion 

4.3.3 Attend to process details 4-5 

4.3.4 Moderating Audio Teleconferencing 4-9 Pre-conferenoing coordination • 4-0 

4.3.42 Teleconferencing Techniques • 4-0 Provide text or visual support • 4-1 

4.4.1 Eliciting and contributing feedback 4-1 1 Feedback on the process • 4-1 1 

4.4.1 2. Feedback on the content messages • 4-1 2 


4.5.1 Mutual exchange of trusting and trustworthy messages 

are essential to building context. 4-1 3 

4.5.2 Personal Risk In Collaboration 4-14 

4.52.1 Anonymous messages • 4 — 14 

4.52.2 Private messaging • 4-15 


4.6.1 Facilitating messages for understanding 4-16 

4.6.2 Providing relevant examples to learners 4-17 

4.6.3 Paraphrasing for confirmation of understanding. 4-1 7 

4.6.4 Providing feedback to co-learners 4-18 

4.6.5 Providing feedback on group process 4-1 9 




A. 1.1 Goals A-3 

A.1.2 Participants A-3 

A. 1.3 Results A-3 

A.1 .3.1 Description of the project • A-3 
A.1 .3.2 Usage, satisfaction and impact on 
students • A-5 
A.1. 3.3 Recommendations and guidelines • A-5 
A.1. 4 Conclusion A-8 






A.2.3.1 Description of the collaborative network 

pilot* A-12 A.2.3.2 Usage, 
satisfaction and impact on 
students* A-1 4 
A.2.3.3 Recommendations and guidelines • A-1 6 




A.3.1 Goals A-21 



















A.4.1 Enrollment and audience A-28 

A.4.2 Format A-28 

A.4.3 Key benefits A-29 

A.4.4 Equipment requirements A-30 


A.5.1 Goals 

A.5.2 Description 


2-1 CNL Technologist 

Collaborative Networked Learning Overview 

Much work in the information age enterprise involves collaborative, 
team oriented tasks. Learning workers share information with one 
another in order to accomplish common tasks in a small group. 
Professionals share information with each other, and learn something 
about each others specialization in order to reach consensus on a 
common problem. Assembly line workers have increased productivity 
when workers learned from each other how their different individual 
parts of the task fit together to produce the whole. All of these 
different learning workers are engaging in activities which involve 

Life-long learning in the workplace is becoming a necessity rather 
than an ideal. The need for collaboration is great and will continue. 
By facilitating collaborative methods of learning, we could help 
workers acquire individually and collectively the rapidly, changing 
knowledge required in the high-tech workplace. 
3. Collaboration is a condition of learning in the information workplace. 

While the worker in the industrial era factory learned how to ma- 
nipulate objects and memorized actions, the worker in the modern 
organization learns how to think, learn and apply information to a 

• Workers need to engage in activities that allow them to approach 
problems from different vantage points, testing out 
as8umptions,and redefining meanings,i.e.creative thinking in 
order to develop new viewpoints. 

• Workers need to engage in the sociaI,coIIaborative exchange of 
ideas in order to pose hypothetical problems, general hypotheses, 
conduct experiments and reflect on outcomes. Basically, workers 
are learning in groups to make meaning out of information. Not 
only do workers need to make meaning out of the information 
but in order to actually perform their jobs they need to be able to 
share that meaning with others. 

This guide is to serve as a basic resource for individuals planning, 
implementing, and participating in Collaborative Networked Learning 
(CNL) communities as co-learners. The general guidelines provided here 
draw upon published research and from experience with successful 
applications of different CNL models. 

Chapter 1 

Justification of CNL 

Collaborative Networked Learning (CNL) is that learning which occurs via electronic 
dialogue between self-directed co-learners and learners and experts. Learners share a common 
purpose, depend upon each other and are accountable to each other for their success. CNL 
occurs in interactive groups in which participants actively communicate and negotiation 
meaning with one another. 

CNL is a new way for workers to learn through collaboration with other workers 
locally and around the globe. Remote, widely dispersed workers are learning 
collaboratively around the world with non-resident experts (teachers) without 
leaving the work site. One important way of bringing experts together with 
learners is through on-line electronic learning environments. In some instances 
these distributed networked learning environments operate as text-based 
alternatives to in-person classes, in other instances they operate in conjunction 
with video or audio teleconferences, and in still other formats as continuations 
of in-person classes. A variety of formats and media combinations are being 
developed to facilitate the exchange of information and collaborative learning 
among groups of individuals. 

Justification of CNL 1-1 

1 .1 CNL is sound educational practice. 

Researchers and educators have contrasted collaborative activities with two other 
categories — competitive and individualistic. Competitive activities, for example, include 
those in which only one person can win, or where learners compete for grades, rank, or 
status, rather than when all members focus on achieving mastery or competence. 
Individualistic activities, for example, include working in isolation with no interaction 
with others, or when a learner interacts only with a self-paced manual or CBI, rather 
than when all members share ideas with each other. 

The results of on-going research in this area, may help us clarify the 
desired outcomes of any of our learning environments. David and Roger 
Johnson 1 have conducted research for the past twenty years on the effects 
and effectiveness of these three goal structures on learners. In 1981 the 
Johnsons conducted a review 2 of 122 research studies from 1922 to 1980 
relating to collaborative, competitive, and individualistic goal structures. 
The overwhelming conclusion was that collaborative, cooperative goal 
directed activities lead to higher achievement. Overall higher achievement 
translates into higher productivity. 

In the collaborative learning environment no one loses. Learning 
becomes a win/win situation for all of the participants. In general, the 
interaction process in collaborative groups promotes the discovery and 
development of higher quality strategies for reasoning than does the 
individual strategies found in competitive and individualistic learning 
situations. 3 In competitive situations, learners devote energy to winning 
by succeeding at the expense of others rather than everyone working 
together for the higher achievement of all the members of the group. On 
the other hand, in individual situations, learners only achieve at their 
level of capability, whereas in a collaborative group the synergy allows 
each one to exceed his native capability. When applied on a broad scale 
collaborative learning methods could facilitate a higher level of of 
achievement for all workers in an organization. 

Johnson, David and Roger Johnson. 1976. Learning- Together and Alone tCooperation, 
Competition, and IndividualixationEnglewood Cliff, N.J.;Prentice-Hall 

* Johnaon, David at al. 1981. The affacta of Cooperation, Competitive, and Individualistic Goal 
Structures on Achievement: A Met* -Analysis." Psychological Bulletin, 89, pp. 47-62. 

* Alfle Kohn provides a comprehensive discussion of these issues in two recent publications. Kohn, Alfle. 
1987. "Its Hard to Get Left Out of a Pair," Psychology Today ,Vol 10, pp. 52-67. and Kohn, Alfle 
1986Jfo Contact/The Case Against Competition. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co. 

1-2 Justification of CNL 

1 .2 CNL is sound business practice. 

Much work in the information age enterprise involves collaborative, team oriented tasks. 
Learning workers share information with one another in order to accomplish common 
tasks in a small group. Professionals share information with each other, and learn 
something about each others specialization in order to reach consensus on a common 
problem. Assembly line workers have increased productivity when workers learned from 
each other how their different individual parts of the task fit together to produce the 
whole. All of these different learning workers are engaging in activities which involve 

Organizations, such as Digital, according to George Huber 1 will be 
qualitatively ,radically different from those of previous organizations. One 
significant factor in today's organization is the amount of available 
knowledge, the growth rate of knowledge, and the shorter useful life of 
information. Consequently, life-long learning in the workplace is 
becoming a necessity rather than an ideal. Increasing amounts of time 
and energy are being spent to make sure that workers have the up-to- 
date skills and knowledge required to do their jobs. At the same time 
workers are being required to spend more time learning to stay on top of 
their jobs, they are becoming more specialized in their knowledge. With 
specialization comes the need for collaborative interdependence in order to 
perform the complex tasks of today's workplace. 

The need for collaboration is great and will continue. By facilitating 
collaborative methods of learning, we could help workers acquire 
individually and collectively the rapidly, changing knowledge required in 
the high-tech workplace. We could also foster collaborative methods of 
information sharing to help groups make meaning out of information as 
the basis for solving some of our difficult tasks. 

1 HttlMT, CUorg*. 1984. "!%• Natur* and D«rign of Po«t-Indu«trial Organization*, Manafmt«at 
8cUoo«,Vol 30, pp. 928-961 

Justification of CNL 1-3 

1 .3 Collaboration is necessary for learning in the information 

While the worker in the industrial era factory learned how to manipulate objects and 
memorized actions, the worker in the modern organization learns how to think, learn and 
apply information to a task. In essence, today's worker is learning meaning rather than 
just rote procedures. Even the worker in today's automated factory must connect 
meaning to the data appearing on the terminal screen. Drawing on the work of 
educational psychologist Lev S. Vygotsky, Dr. Gloria Schuck 2 outlined two basic 
conditions for learning in the high-tech workplace: 

1. Workers need to engage in activities that allow them to approach 
problems from different vantage points, testing out assump-tions,and 
redefining meanings,i.e.creative thinking in order to develop new 

2. Workers need to engage in the sociaI,coIlaborative exchange of ideas in 
order to pose hypothetical problems, general hypotheses, conduct 
experiments and reflect on outcomes. 

Basically, workers make meaning out of information when they are encouraged to engage 
in creative mental activities and have an opportunity to test out their hypothesis with 
other individuals. 3 Not only do workers need to make meaning out of the information 
but in order to actually perform their jobs they need to be able to share that meaning with 

' Schuck, Gloria. 1966. "Intelligent Technology, Intelligent Workers: A new Pedagogy for The High-IWh 
Work Piece," Organisational Dynamic* Vol 14, pp. 66-79. 

* Eventually we will move into an era when intelligent expert systems will become a part of the on-line 
collaboration. At the prevent time, expert ayatem* are not partner* in the collaboration but aopport 
tools. Collaboration would require interactire negotiation of meaning and responsiveness, i.e. a dialog. 
Research ia still formative in this area but in general would require sophisticated interfaces such ss 
natural language interface* and responsiveness to the messages of the learner rather than passive 
viewing of machine messages. 

1-4 Justification of CNL 

1 .4 CNL Learning Models Check list 

The following items might serve as a check list to help the users determine the appro- 
priateness of CNL learning models for their needs. The more closely the characteristics 
match those in the check list, the more likely CNL an appropriate approach for the 
situation. The CNL learning model* involves aspects of the following: 

• Topics are unstable or being created 

• A problem or question has no clear answer yet 

• Learners are more often self-directed than other directed 

No one person has the answer — it is dispersed or hidden within a group 
or organization 

The answers are obtained by groups of workers in cooperation who 
may be widely distributed 

An unstructured or networked approach is usually taken 

Knowledge needs to be captured, synthesized.generated, filtered and 

Involves asynchronous or synchronous interaction among learners who 
may not be co-located. 

checklist pr*par«d by L*«li« Wittman and Mark Gill, from DIS/HRM 

Justification of CNL 1-5 

Chapter 2 


2.1 Determining Purpose 

Tb make Collaborative Networked Learning (CNL) experiences focused and efficient, 
clearly define and announce the purpose. Several basic purposes are described below. 

2.1 .1 Purpose defined by organizer 

The organizer/ facilitator of CNL might defined the purpose in advance of 
securing participation. In this type of CNL, participants would join the group 
based upon a desire to share in accomplishing the pre-defined purpose. The 
purpose could be very specific such as: " The members of this group will 
prepare a marketing strategy for value added services for DSN;" or more 
general, such as: The members of this group will learn about and share 
information regarding value added services for DSN." 

2.1 .2 Purpose defined by the group 

The purpose might initially be more loosely defined, based upon the prior 
knowledge of the selected group of participants such as, "the members of 
this group will pool their knowledge to develop a long-range adoption plan 
for CNL." Or, "the purpose of this CNL forum is for experts and novices 
to share their experiences moderating a 

learning forum." As the group learns more they will continue to refine 

their purpose. 

Learning in the context of problem-solving is a example of a more 

general group purpose, where the specific learning and outcomes 

are refined based upon the goal and prior knowledge of the invited 


2.1 .3 Purpose defined by on-going needs 

The learning purpose in these situations is open-ended and on-going. The 
group with a broadly defined learning goal will determine specific 
operational purposes based upon current needs. Frequently, existing 
learning groups define their purpose based upon a long-term mission. On- 
going learning within a particular domain and group is motivated by the 
rapid rates of change being experienced in our society and the work group. 
The group which starts with an open purpose may from time to time want 
to refine their purpose,based upon new information and current mission, 
for two reason: (1) to know what they have accomplished and that the 
experience was worth the effort (2) to establish criteria for completeness, or 

When one speaks of purpose-driven CNL, it does not necessarily imply 
either a closely defined initial purpose or an open purpose. It implies that 
as part of the experience the group develops a shared purpose and that 
their interaction is focused on accomplishing that purpose. The purpose- 
driven interaction criteria distinguishes CNL group activities from Bulletin 
Board Systems (BBS) in which individuals post and access the latest 
available information in an area. 

While the group has a stated work related purpose such as those 
mentioned earlier, it is also likely to fulfill a social functional for the 
members. It is important that both the stated purpose and the personal 
purposes of the members be considered as the group interaction continues. 

2-2 Planning 

2.2 Determining goal structure 

In a CNL group the members share a cooperative goal structure. Cooperative structures 
contract with two other structures — competitive and individualistic. 

• A cooperative goal structure is the desired norm for CNL. 

According to Johnson and Johnson 2 members see a positive cor- 
relation among group members' goal attainments- that is, they 
perceive that they can achieve their goal if and only if the other 
members with whom they are linked obtain their goal. 

For example, when a group lifts a heavy object or members of a 
software development team integrate and debug a new application, all 
members experience the success. 

• Competitive goal are not as effective for CNL. 

In a competitive situation, there is a negative correlation; members 
perceive that they can obtain their goals only if other members fail to 
obtain their goal. 

• The individualistic goal structure is inappropriate for CNL. 

In contrast to these two group goal structures is the individualistic 
goal structure common in many learning environments. The 
individual is rewarded for his/her own achievement and the 
achievement is generally unrelated to that of others. 

CNL groups are based on a shared cooperative goal structure. As work 
occurs more and more in teams requiring the combined expertise of 
different members, the cooperative goal structure of CNL is more likely 
to support the overall goals of work group process than highly 
competitive or individualistic approaches. 

1 Johnson, D. W. & Johnson, R T. 1987. f .Miming Tog»Ui«r and akm*tCoop«ratiT«, co*»p«titiT«, and 
in4ivida*li»tic fearniagttnd si) EngUwood Cliffs, NJ: Pr*ntic*-Hall. 

2.3 Creating an Intentional Learning Group 

Participants in CNL establish an intentional learning group 1 electronically with a 
cooperative goal structure. The intention of the members is to engage in the learning 
process together. The members commit to the group and the achievement of a mutually 
defined purpose. 

There are two primary categories of intentional learning groups: 

1. Existing groups, teams and work groups decide that they need to 
learn and can accomplish their learning goals together ,and 

2. Individuals organize groups and invite others to participate based on 
a defined and shared learning goal. 

2.4 Selecting a CNL format 

Three basic CNL formats have been successfully implemented. 

1. All Electronic in which participants accomplish their learning all on- 
line. The electronic form could be text-based, audio or video col- 
laboration or any mix of media. The Irish Aquaculture Conference is a 
example of the all electronic structure. Regular audio and video 
conferences for sharing ideas,debriefing and developing strategies are 
also common examples of this form of collaboration. 

2. Before or After an in-person class or group meeting, such as the 
electronic pre-course for the Digital Management Educational 
Seminar," Managing Small Projects. Before a face-to-face meeting, 
electronic interactions provide an opportunity for all participants to 
review and share basic background content prior to real-time 
interaction. After an in- person meeting, the group can continue the 
interaction and address new issues as they occur. 

I UM the term "intentional" to auggeet that the participant* "belong" to a group to achiere a purpoae and 
that it ia their "Voluntary" intention to accompliah that purpoae. CNL are different from natural group* 
or eommunitiea eince they often eziat only through the electronic world. 

2-4 Planning 

Mixed mode in which participant* attend class or listen to broadcast 
video in conjunction with interacting on-line. The Communications 
Skills seminar provided learners an opportunity to interact with each 
other between face-to-face meeting!. The Field Service Electronic 
Seminar and WGBH On-line integrate video broadcasts,text based 
materials, and computer conferencing. 

2.5 Selecting Media Formats 2.5.1 
Synchronous and asynchronous 

Synchronous communication involves a real-time connection through media channels for 
two way video, two way audio, or text-based computer conferencing. These "distributed" 
environments can be a cost effective method for helping workers share information and 
collaborate regularly, without the time and expense of travel. Asynchronous 
communication does not require that participant* be available in real time. It is basically a 
store-and-forward communication strategy; individuals unable to schedule a "get 
together" can still collaborate, using asynchronous media such as E-mail and computer 

It is important to match the purpose and overall goals of the group with 
the appropriate media. The table below summarizes key distinguishing 

Table 2-1 : CNL Technologies 



Neither Time nor 

In Tim* 

In Space Space 

Audi coif 

V " mail 



Freeze*frame video over public 

Text based "notes" 



PC with keyboard and freehand 


graphics with audio conferencing 


Video networks with two-way 

Group Support S W in LAN Graphic messaging 


(Colab) systems 

Planning 2-5 

Table 2-1 (Com.): CNL Technologies 

Synchronous Asynchronous 

Neither Timm nor 
In Tint* In 8pac« 8p«c« 

Video teleconferencing 

In many on-going situations it will be economically possible and feasible to mix media of 
interaction to the overall purpose,budget, and current stage of interaction. 

2.5.2 Computer-mediated communication (CMC) 

The use of computer networks to facilitate the learning process is part of 
a larger effort which focuses on the use of the computer as a human 
communications medium. Interaction at the present time utilizes text 
and graphics to facilitate both simultaneous and asynchronous collabo- 
ration. Future projections call for all media types to be integrated at a 
networked workstation, within the next five years. Remote,dlstrtbuted networks 

Text-based computer conferencing software has been in use since early 
1970 on time sharing computers. They are now available through ex- 
tended, distributed networks with software such as Digital's VAXnotes. 
Elaine Kerr and Roxanne Hiltx, explain: " communication is a 
new medium for building and maintaining human relationships. It is 
faster and cheaper than alternative methods for linking geographically 
dispersed people in working groups,but more importantly, it tends to 
expand greatly the human and information resources to which one has 
constant and convenient access. 1 

2-8 Planning 

Digital's primary products in this area for private communication is El- 
mail, and for group communication is VAXNotes. Third party computer 
conferencing software is readily available for group communication on 
VMS; the most notable is Caucus marketed worldwide by MetaSystems. 

Workers who need to engage in on-going learning want to find the most 
efficient means to achieve their goals. In a CMC network, learners 
determine their own time, place, and pace of learning activities. The 
primary distinction, and advantage, is that interaction does not have to be 
conducted in real time or space. In essence, the electronic network becomes 
a 'place' in the minds of the users. Local computer networks 

The use of computer networking is not restricted to distant communication, but 
can also enhance the information access, structuring, and sharing by co- 
located,face-to-face groups. Each individual is connected as part of a local area 
network within the room. The network would also provide immediate access 
to information not physically present in the room. Groupware (software for 
group enhancement) aids the participants in the structuring and sharing of 
common information. 

Software tools that support the learning process are being developed to assist 
the work of small groups of individuals. Users of these tools are usually all 
together in the same physical space such as a classroom or conference center, 
but they could be spread out in a factory work unit, as well. 

2.5.3 Audio Conferencing 

Voice-only networking is the simplest,least expensive and perhaps the most 
widely used form of electronic networking. The benefits of audio networks 
include cost-saving in travel, particularly where periodic, limited duration 
collaboration is required. In many cases, individuals only need to share 
limited pieces of information in order to reach understanding. However, 
the bits of information may be owned by a number of widely distributed 
individuals. Or, the individuals who need the information may be widely 
separated from the one or two experts in 

Planning 2-7 

the field. When two-way communication of information among a group is 
necessary for gaining understanding, the ease at which an audio only 
network can be set-up makes it an ideal, cost effective media for sharing 
information,immediateIy as soon as the need arises. 

Audio conferencing service is avail internally through the DIBS (Digital 
Integrating Briding Service) for DTN users. For interaction among 
customers worldwide AT&T offers regional and international bridging 

Until recently each individual participant had to be available to interact 
at the same time as all other participants. Recent developments with 
voice-mail systems. which operate much like telephone answering 
machines,are beginning to remove this restriction for participants. 

However, for voice-mail systems to be a useful technology for us, we 
will need to develop ways of storing,aocessing, and forwarding large 
quantities of digital audio files. Audiographic 

Audiographic networking technology involves adding a graphic or visual 
component to audio channels. Two technologies have potential uses for us 
in supplying cost-effective audiographic collaboration: freexe-frame video 
and computer controlled graphics. Audiographics offer the advantages of 
two-way audio interaction discussed above, plus the added advantage of 
visual,graphic information which can be used to support the audio 
interaction. Depending upon the content of the information, the visual 
component may be critical. For example, when complex diagrams, 
designs, or pictorial information is necessary for interaction, 
audiographic systems are an effectiveness expensive collaborative 
medium than full motion video. 

2532 Fr»«ze-fram« video 

Freeze-frame video is less costly than full motion video for remote 
collaboration among a number of locations. Freeze-frame video is useful 
for transmitting not only two-dimensional illustrations to support 
information sharing, but it can also transmit pictures of equipment and 
prototypes. This media offers the possibility for transmitting 3-D images 
at low cost for group collaboration. It also has the added 

2-6 Planning 

advantage of transmitting images of the participants which help to create 
a feeling of contact which audio alone does not offer. 

Freeze-frame video systems can do anything for users that full-motion 
video can do, except of course transmit motion. Systems use public 
telephone networks to link geographically dispersed locations. 

Essentially, freeze-frame conferencing equipment freezes a frame of video 
information, from any analog source such as a camera or videodisc, 
codes it into digital data, stores it in memory and transmits it over 
remove dial-up lines at 4,800 BPS . At the other end, the digital data is 
transformed back to analog and displayed on a screen. Initially, each site 
would need to be equipped with cameras, monitors, printers, and audio 
systems. The price of operation,however, is only the price of two long 
distance phone calls for the duration of the session. 

A comparatively less expensive system, Photophone,has been tested 
within Digital by the Telecommunications Group. At the present time 
Photophone, marketed by Vidlel, is the Digital preferred internal vendor. 
It operates over a single line between locations and thus blanks while 
video freeze-frames are being transmitted. 

Groups in central engineering who need to collaborate on product design 
are using their systems on an on-going basis to cut down on travel time 
and cost. While it is useful for two location sharing of graphics and 
visual images, the basic model affords little opportunity for multi-location 
group collaboration. 

At the present time, Digital is currently developing a board level product 
for transmission over the E-net for use with workstations. Commercial 
release of the product is expected in early FY 91. It will theoretically be 
possible to create small distributed groups using E-net channels. Computer Audlographict 

Audio conferencing with computer graphics and computer interaction can 
link a number of locations together for sharing graphical information as 
well as carrying on audio interaction among the participant*. By adding 
the capability of audio to a text and graphic network, the lose of fidelity of 
interaction can be reduced. Computer audiographics 

has been successfully used to aid collaborative learning in a number of 
corporate environments. 

IBM currently uses a system which in many respects is similar to freeze- 
frame video, except it is integrated with an IBM PC -XT. Graphics and 
text pages are prepared in advance of a session, called up and transmitted 
with a 3-5 second delay during the interaction. The IBM system is 
reported to support interaction over normal telephone networks to link 
multiple geographically dispersed locations. 

AT&T currently conducts multi-location audio conferencing in conjunction 
with personal communication graphics and text files for employee sales 
training. AT&T through a cooperative marketing agreement with OP- 
TEL in New York began selling the equipment and service in late 1988. 
The same system was also used with favorable results at Harvard last 
fall for a semester intensive calculus class. 

The supporting software developed by OP-TEL of New York links the OP- 
TEL Telewriter II PC audiographic units or MS-DOS compatiable 
computer with AT&T's Alliance Teleconferencing Service. The service can 
provide computer based synchronous audio based networking for up to 59 

Basically, computer audiographic systems operate like an electronic 
blackboard which allows all users to create keyboard and hand drawn 
graphics. These graphics can be stored, transmitted, and annotated by 
any of the learners on-line. The drawing space is not shared but 
transmitted by each user. The voice channel and the data channel share 
the same circuit simultaneously. The use of such system has been 
primarily for one-way presentation with questions. The technology could 
easily be used for more collaborative learning and sharing of information 

Interactive audiographic systems such as these can provide learning 
opportunities at the desktop computers of widely dispersed learners. 
Travel time is eliminated and the cost of information sharing is reduced. 

The «yatem currently operatee on IBM and MS-DOS compatible equipment; however OP-TEL haa 
•xpreawd intereet in developing aoftware for uae with low-end Digital equipment. 

2-10 Planning 

2.5.4 Video Conferencing 

There are currently two basic versions of video networking. (1) Point-to- 
multipoint broadcast by closed circuit television provides two-way audio 
interaction with any number of remote sites. Digital Video Network is an 
example of this type of network. Programs are broadcast through a 
satellite uplink to an increasing number of Digital sites which have 
receiving downlinks. The network can easily be expanded to include 
temporary broadcasts to commercial hotel sites, or become part of a global 
network for international exchange. (2) Two-way interactive video 
conferencing using T-l digital telephone lines. At present high fidelity 
interaction can be achieved through portable video conferencing which 
transforms ordinary conference rooms into video conferencing facilities. 
The units which currently sell for about $34K ( and decreasing with 
market competition), can be rolled into an existing conference room. The 
self-contained systems support two-way interactive video, audio, graphics, 
and data communications. Video conferencing which once required 
participants to travel to a permanently equipped conference center,or a 
local hotel can occur between small groups at different locations through 
spontaneously dialed connections from a keypad console. 

The current technology using T-l switched digital telephone network 
mirrors routine telephone service. By simply dialing, the user can 
connect between two of the companies locations or to customer sites. 
Regular telephone charges apply to these connections. 

The Telecommunication's Business Consulting Group at VRO can assist 
users in planning and using this equipment. 

2.6 Planning Considerations Check list 

Since CMC at present is text-based communication, it requires only a narrow bandwidth for 
transmission and consequently is a low cost means of asynchronous collaboration The present 
text-based nature of the interaction also reduces the fidelity, and social presence of the 
interaction All of the non-verbal cues of face-to-face communication are missing. In general, as 
bandwidth narrows, the medium is perceived as being less personal and affording less social 
presence. These characteristics limit the acceptability, particularly by first time, inexperienced 
computer users. 

CMC alone can definitely be an effective means of collaboration for 
experienced computer users. It can also likely be efficiently employed with 
inexperienced users as low-cost follow-up with any of the more expensive 
options discuss here. For example, expensive high bandwidth, interactive 
video could be used to establish initial contact and social presence. CMC 
could then be used as a less expensive, narrow bandwidth follow-up strategy. 

For groups that will be interacting over a long period of time, a face-to-face 
meeting could be held prior to extended CMC activities. In other instances, 
text-based conferencing could be used in combination with video and audio 
networking to increase the feelings of connection among the participants over 

The conferencing system needs to be tailored to the particular needs of the 
group. Group are able to adjust conferencing systems to suit their own needs, 
provided the initial system is sound and flexibility is accommodated. If a group 
is not able to work in a suitable environment, the conference will fail 

During planning ask the question: "Who needs to communicate with 
whom about what", at what time and in what medium. The 
practical questions include the following. 

• Can participants message each other? 

• Can the moderator message participants individually? 

• Will the 'conference* be one conference, or a principal conference and sub- 

conferences for special purposes? 

• Will the conference be serial (the only ordering of comments is by time-of- 

writing), or will there be a topic/reply structure (in which comments are 
grouped both by time and by relevance to a 'seed' comment (like VAX 
Notes)? If there is a topic/reply structure, will 

2-12 Planning 

it evolve during the conference, and how many and what topica will 

be established at the start? 

In a directed (or purpose-driven, or meeting-like) conference, will 

there be deadlines within the conference for particular issues to be 

resolved, or will all issues stay debatable until the end? How might 

any deadlines interact with participants' ability to join the conference 

over a period? Will a "voting" structure be used to establish that a 

group consensus has been reached on individual issues? 

Will their be a mixture of different media text, audio,and video for 

different purposes at different times during the groups existence? 

Will the conferencing be synchronous,reguIarly scheduled "meetings," 

or will it be an asynchronous messaging system? 

Will there be sub-groups in which a sub-set of the participants 

address a particular task/topic/issue? 

Chapter 3 

Launching the collaboration 

Engineering the group culture in which collaborative learning can occur is one major part of 
the successful implementation. 

3.1 Maximizing Participant Involvement* 

Most successful CNL applications are characterized by high levels of 
participant involvement and spontaneity. In Dr. Mary Douglas's "theory of 
organizations", organizations fall into one of four categories, depending 
upon the degree of structure (organizational differentiation and 
bureaucracy) and solidarity (the degree of social bonding). 

High structu: 

re High structure Loia 
High solidarity 

organi zations 
teacher lead 

al, B — Armed services 

Low structuri 

High solidarity 

(low group 

and study groups 
(high group culture) 

At the start of CNL, participants will typically be in cell C above. The goal is to move 
them into cell D. 

adapted by John Gundry from seminar material dereloped with Western Behavior Science Institute 

Launching th« collaboration 3-1 

The practical actions to achieve this goal can be considered in three areas: 

• Planning appropriate conference system (See Chapter 2) 

• Context creation 

• The actions of the moderator or organizer 

3.1 .1 Context creation 

CNL creates an electronic social environment which did not exist prior to the collaboration. 
Conference organizers begin a conference by setting the tone and context for the 
interaction through one or more of the following strategies: 

• Kick off meeting, either face-to-face or video conference, to allow 

participants to get acquainted personally and develop group cohesion, 

• Distribution of decisions on the goals of the conference, 

• Distribution of conference reading materials, 

• Opening comments made by the moderator set the tone and ground 

rules for the subsequent interaction. 

It is also important to pay careful attention to the on-going communication among the 
participants to help create a supportive context for the interaction. The overall context 
needs to support positive collaboration. 

3.1 .2 Practical actions for the moderator or organizer 

• Announce the theme of the discussion so that participants can identify 

with it. 

• Decide on a familiar communication metaphor for the conference: is it 

like a meeting, like a presentation-based conference, like a symposium, 
like a seminar, like a lecture, like a classroom, like a group 
encyclopedia, like a workshop, like an interview, like a newspaper, like 
CB radio or a chat-line or what? 

• Define the agenda of the conference: selecting an order and flow of 

topics, and setting expectations about the end-state of the conference 
and what participants will gain from it. 

3-2 Launching th« collaboration 

• Set expectations about the role, actions and workload of the moderator 

and of the participants. 

• Define the conference etiquette - defining acceptable and unacceptable 
on-line behavior. 

3.2 Develop rules and guidelines for participants 

In order to minimize personal and legal conflicts it is important to develop general ground- 
rules and guidelines for participants. It is particularly important from a legal stand point 
when customers are involved to have these guidelines in place to protect the information 

In the following section sample rules have been developed by incorporating 
the suggestions of experienced moderators in the Moderators and Etiquette 
on-line conferences at Digital. 

3.2.1 Absolute Rules and Legal Regulations 

First of all, there are the absolute rules of the conference. These spell out 
the limits of what you may do through the computer medium. Each rule is 
dictated by the realities of the law. 

1. Do not speak badly of anyone. 

2. Do not discuss the specifics of crimes. 

3. Do not talk about pending or potential legal action. 

4. Do not use obscene or offensive language. 

5. Do not recruit or sell. 

6. Do not transgress copyright laws and proprietary rights 

Launching th« collaboration 3-3 

3.2.2 Guidelines 

The guidelines are intended to help define and illustrate the absolute rules. Please 
remember that CNL is a very new phenomenon and we are all learning how it can and 
can not be used. Most of what appears here is common sense. Many of you reading this 
will think, at times, "Who could ever do that?". But experience over the last few years 
shows that people do these things, and with the best will in the world sometimes don't 
realize that they are transgressing common sense. 

1. Communication norms 

When discussing different approaches to a problem or issue, please be 
careful to confine your discussion to the issues and not the person. 
Although you may disagree vehemently with another person's 
viewpoint, courteous responses are expected. 

Suppose that someone makes an argument which you feel is wrong. 
You could respond in any one of the following manners: 

• Unacceptable: "You'd have to be out of your mind to believe that!" 

• Unacceptable: That argument is stupid." 

• Acceptable: ' T don't believe that." 

• Acceptable: "I disagree with that argument." 

There is no reason to criticize the person or to ridicule the 
argument. Merely stating that you disagree and explaining why, 
is sufficient. It is, of course, more politic to say that you 
disagree, but it is acceptable to say that an argument or 
statement is wrong, provided you explain your reasoning. 

2. Criminal behavior & legal actions 

It can be quite hard to determine what constitutes a crime. The best 
guideline is to avoid any discussion of criminal behavior and legal 

3. Inappropriate language 

Avoid "cuss-words", "four-letter words" and the like. Additionally, 
ordinary words can become offensive when used improperly. 

4. Recruiting and selling 

3-4 Launching th« collaboration 

The ban on recruiting protects participants from receiving unwanted 
solicitations for employment. The ban on selling applies as a general 
rule when a participant is writing about something in which they 
have a vested commercial interest and the purpose of writing about it 
is commercial even if in addition to the purposes of exchanging 
information. If,soleIy for the purpose of exchanging information, a 
participant does describe a product or service in which they have a 
vested interest, they must declare that interest. 
Copyright laws and proprietary rights. 

If participants are in doubt as to whether the material they are 
writing is already copyrighted, they should not write it. This 
restriction applies, however, to verbatim copying. Summaries and 
revisions of material are allowed. Common sense is used to judge 
whether the material is essentially a copy or a summary or revision. 
The situation as regards proprietary material will be determined by 
the participant individually. 
Encouraging Responsible Behavior 

Anyone writing in a text conference or part of an audio or video 
conference should introduce themselves. This accomplishes two 
things. It helps us to know each other and to take responsibility for 
our behavior, and it helps the moderator know that you are familiar 
with the rules and procedures. 
Dealing with infractions and complaints 

No matter how well-intentioned one is, being human, one can expect 
to write comments here which unintentionally offend others or break 
one of the conference rules. When this happens, one needs to handle 
it expeditiously and with sensitivity. The following procedures are 
intended to enable us to deal with the problems as quickly and with 
as little fuss as possible. PLEASE follow them if there are problems. 

If any person finds a conference comment objectionable, they have the 
right to contact the chairman and request that action be taken. 

In a text based conference this may involve 

• deleting the comment and re-posting it in an edited form, 

• deleting it all together, 

• posting a clarifying or explanatory comment, 

• a simple explanation to the objecting party, 

Launching the collaboration 3-5 

• withdrawal and replacement of the comment. In an 
audio or video conferencing, this may involve: 

• stopping the conference and discussing the issues if it can be 
resolved quickly 

• scheduling a private interaction between the parties and the 
conference moderator to resolve the conflict outside of the on- 
going forum. 

3-6 Launching th« collaboration 

3.3 Check List for Communicating with Participants 

Previous implementators of CNL have developed the following guidelines to help 
participants get involved early and stay active. 

1 . Notify participants about any CNL sessions via E-mail and send the 
instructions and schedule early. 

2. Attend to access security. 

• For text-based Computer Mediated Conferencing. using 
VAXNotes establish an open,unannounced conference. 

An open conference will eliminate the problems participants have 
trying to gain access to a restricted conference. 

Restricting a conference adds a level of complexity and increases the 
potential for access problems. Participants may have difficulty 
entering a conferences when the moderator has misspelled a name or 
node,or if the user accesses the conference from a different system. 
Unless there is critical security issue, it is simplest to run an open 
conference, but announce it only to group participants. (The 
facilitator needs the E-mail address for each student to send an 
announcement of the conference.) 

• For audio and video CNL, use different access numbers for each 
conference. The telephone company will supply different numbers 
for each conference so that only the participants for the particular 
session can connect. Create an electronic distribution list and notify 
the participants of the number through E-mail. 

3. Provide simple directions including how to handle common errors and 
operating procedures. 

If possible, provide a hands on demonstration of any unfamiliar 
equipment for the novice user. If this is not feasible provide a clear set 
of directions, and provide phone or on-line support with a designated 
individual during the initial start up period. 

• For text-based conferencing, provide a minimal set of instructions for 
g the conference :reading, writing, uploading 

Launching th« collaboration 3-7 

and downloading or printing content. Also provide solutions for 
common error conditions. 

One difficulty which needs to be addressed in the directions is the 
"node unknown" message. If the learner tries to add the 
conference and the reply is node unknown they should first make 
sure that they have entered the node name correctly. We would 
also recommend installing the conference on a node that is short 
and easy to remember, if possible. We would also recommend 
using a node which has been in use for a while rather than a new 
node. Since each network node has a database of nodes which it 
recognizes.the node for the conference system must be in the 
database. If the node is not in the database for the system, the 
"node unknown" message will appear. At this point, the new 
instructions should direct the learner to contact the system 
manager to made sure that node 26.37, for example, is added to 
the system database. It is a simple and not uncommon command 
for the system manager to add the new node to the database. 
For audio and video teleconferencing, make sure that each user 
and each site has a set of procedures for dialing and making 
access connection. The user instructions for video conferencing 
should provide information on where the participants should be 
positioned in relation to the position of the camera (with portable 
equipment.) Also provide directions for re-establishing 
connections and installing any peripheral equipment such as 
speakers or additional monitors. 

For computer network access, provide instructions for the 
operating interface of the user — both DCL and All-in-One are 
common within the VMS environment. 

Several simple interface approaches have been developed for 

• For terminal users,provide directions based upon DCL level 
familiarity and access for the novice user. Or provide access 
through the Pass Key interface to VAXNotes. 

• For workstation users, provide directions for the 
DECWindows interface. 

3-8 Launching th« collaboration 

• For users of All-in-One interface provide directions which tell 
then to go to "Additional Applications" on the menu where they 
could type "Notes" and enter VAX Notes. 

With revised directions, and/or a group of computer users more 
familiar with different applications (for example technical 
managers), the login difficulties will be minimal. 

The moderator or facilitator needs to encourage participants to review 
and react to contributions of others. CNL provides a new method for 
learners to share their opinions with each other, to understand that they 
have different,equally valid viewpoints on issues, and to react to each 
other in a shared forum. Participants new to the medium need to be 
encouraged to listen and review the contributions and react to the 
comments of other group members. 

5. Develop guidelines for integration of all phases of interaction with the 
different media. 

Learners do not want to spend much time in a class or teleconference 
discussing topics which they had already dealt with in a text-based on- 
line conference. They are ready to move on to new topics and exercises. 
There will need to be close coordination between development and 
delivery so that are topics and supporting information are closely 
coordinated in the total design of the learning experience. 

6. Establish deadlines for completion of structured activities. 

For activities which require coordinated group activities, it is important 
to create timelines for participation for each phase of the activity so that 
everyone knows when each part needs to be finished. 

to create timelines tor participation tor each phase ol 
everyone knows when each part needs to be finished. 

Launching th« collaboration 3-9 

Chapter 4 

Participating in collaborative 


In the past when knowledge was resident only in the expert and did not change rapidly, 
we hired teachers based on their knowledge of the content and their platform skills t i.e. 
their ability to transmit information to the student. While these criteria are still 
valuable for success of the individual instructor who is lecturing in front of a live class, 
they decrease in importance when we move into the electronic on-line environment. In 
the CNL environment,Iearning through active participation is a responsibility shared by 
facilitator and group members alike. 

4.1 Role of the facilitator 

In CNL the role of the leader" shifts from "giver" or transmitter of knowledge to one of 
facilitator/coordinator Facilitation 1 involves strategies for encouraging groups of 
individuals to learn with and from one another to create new levels of understanding and 
knowledge. In essence the role changes to one of drawing-cut and drawing-together to 
form a community rather than transmitting a pre-defined, structured body of thoughts or 

I am not focusing on an individual per se but on • set of behaviors that could be provided by one member of a 
collaborative team or could be shared by a number of member* over time. The term facilitator aa uaed in 
thi» diacuaaion doea not imply one specific individual. 

Participating in collaborative learning 4-1 

The CNL facilitator carefully considers and adapts to the differences 
between the familiar face-to-face environment and the networked 
environment. The facilitator may be limited in the ability to "read" all of 
the clues in the environment. For example,the lack of visual or verbal 
clues increases the demands on the facilitator in the on-line computer 
mediated collaboration. Furthermore, in audio supported networks,the 
ability to identify participants and their emotional state from voice tone 
alone is critical to successful facilitation. In video supported networks, 
the facilitator's knowledge of the environment is determined by the 
camera angle and what the participants convey within that framework. 
While the many uniquenesses are important and deserve additional 
research, it is important to focus on essential characteristics of facilitation 
as a basic starting point. 

The general guidelines here offer a check list of major areas to address. 
The materials in the appendix discuss the role of facilitation in more 

4.2 System set-up 

One of the major responsibilities of the organizer or coordinator of CNL is the logistics of 
implementing. For groups using a single media it will be necessary to be familiar with 
the resources for that particular media. For organizers using a combination of media it 
will be necessary to contact the groups supplying those media within the corporation. 
The discussion of implementation in this guide will assist the user in the basis of CNL. 
For users needing specific information about the technology and its application, a number 
of resources exist. 

• A detailed user's guide and on-line conferences is available for 
users of the VAXNotes computer conferencing software. 

• Guide to VAX Notes (AI-G98HA-TE) 

• WARLRD: : VAXNOTESJNTRO (help in the U.S. A) 

• RITZ: :NOTES_HELP (help in Europe) 



4-2 Participating in collaborative teaming 

For CNL using audio conference and video conference technology, 
special workshops and consulting services are available to plan for the 
purchase, lease and reservation of equipment. Assistance is available 
from the Telecommunication Business Application Group within 
Digital, or from commercial telecommunications and video 
conferencing vendors regionally and internationally. Furthermore, the 
discussion of the different media technology in the previous section will 
help the coordinator make informed decisions. 

4.3 Moderating On-line:A Social Infrastructure compendium 1 

The following material provides a list of specific roles and responsibilities for the facilitator 
of a networked conference. In general, a strong but subtle egalitarian leadership style is 
appropriate for CMC. One of the first tasks of the leader is to make sure that all 
participants acquire the ability to communicate in the medium. In general, it is probably 
easier for participants to acquire the technical skills than the social skills to work in the 
new media. Even though the group will be working on-line, a number of experts suggest an 
initial face-to-face (or audio or video if distant prohibits) meeting at the outset in order to: 
(Dfoster group cohesiveness; constructing friendships, interest groups and 
alliances,(2)define and outline the purpose and discuss responsibilities (3) and reach 
consensus on goals, directions, procedures and methods. 

4.3.1 Structuring the interaction 

The moderator must clarify the group's structure, making clear the 
differences between private and group messages, conference comments, 
and notebooks (spaces for group composition in which pages can be 
manipulated, co-authoring is possible). The organizer will also want to 
arrange for the use and time of other conferencing media such as audio 
and video teleconferencing. "Structuring tasks" include: 

• establish expectations about frequency of participation 

* add and deleting participants 

• consider separate conferences for separate purposes 

1 Adapted from ELAINE B. KERR "MODERATING ONLINE CONFERENCES'Computer Conferencing and 
Communication* Centre, Reeearch Report 20, February 1984, and Andy Feinberg A fODERATING A 
COMPUTER CONFERENCES Practical Guide La Jolla, CA: Weei*m Behavioral Science* Institute, 1988, 
by John Gundry, Enterpriae Deeign Group, Reading, UK 

Participating in coilaborativ* teaming 4-3 

spell out norms on copying, copyright and confidentiality 

clarify responsibility and roles 

reach consensus on expectations of task, division of labor, timetable, 


in text based collaboration delete dated or irrelevant comments to 

reduce information overload 

in audio or video conferencing provide update and context from 

previous interaction 

clarify external constraints including relationships with other 

groups and funding 

begin with a minimal structure and allow the group product to 

evolve over time 

4.3.2 Maintain lively, focused discussion 

The following suggested behaviors will help the group achieve success. Not all behaviors 
need to be performed by the same person, leadership responsibilities can be shared. 

• Sharpen, modify, refine and merge the discussion. Locate common 


• Frequently summarize the group's progress towards deadlines and 
tasks not yet accomplished. 

• Ask individuals for a summary of their status. 

• Stimulate and balance the discussion, keep it on track 

• Give explicit feedback to individuals and to ideas, with questions, 

suggestions, directions, references and implications. 

• Cross-fertilize ideas; point out areas of agreement and disagreement. 

• Refrain from posing as final authority - let the group decide. 

• If there is a final summary as an output,develop a format for the 
group to use. 

Participating hi ooNaborativ* teaming 

4.3.3 Attend to process details 

The following behaviors will help the group get off to a good start and continue to function 
productively. Leaders will need to attend to the following: 

• WELCOME — Friendly and informal first message, reminding people 

how they can get help. Welcome and introduce members as they join. 
• INITIAL ITEMS — Offer people the opportunity to practice with informal 
short introductions, including their hopes for the conference. 

• DIRECTORY — Let people complete their "introduction" entries on line 

for text based networking or provide background biographic statements 
for audio or video conferencing. 

• SOCIAL GET-TOGETHER— Consider hosting an electronic party (10-15 

people) or fun get acquainted activity initially. The cost will be justified 
in terms of group cohesiveness later on. 

• MAIL AND TELEPHONE — Mail copies of transcripts to late arrivals, 

and possibly to all members, to bring them to a common point. 
Personally telephone those who have special problems with the software 
or topic being discussed. 

• DELEGATION — Assign and recruit volunteers for special assignments, 

and get buy-in. Some people might be Issue Managers, "chairing" 
discussions around one issue. 

STROKING — Give positive feedback and reinforcement to both 
individuals and to conference comments. Help to engender self- 
esteem. Demonstrate that contributions are valued. 

• TIMING — Make sure that new items are waiting when people sign on to 
text based conferencing. Between audio and video group conferences, 
follow-up on discussion with with communications to regular participants 

• META COMMUNICATION — Encourage the discussion of meta-issues to 

do with the conferencing itself. Encourage the "coffee break" type of 
comment. Meta-communication helps the group function more smoothly 
as a cohesive unit. 

CONTROL — Manage a positive climate, awareness of the current task, the 
direction of the conference, and its progress to resolution. 
• Encourage members to talk to each other, not to you alone or to some 
vague audience. 

Participating in collaborative learning 4-5 

Help the group maintain sight of its objectives by refbcusing 
discussion when the dialog seems to be getting off track. 

Encourage all members to participate so that the group is not 
dominated by a few more verbal members. 

NORMS — Monitor the emergence of group norms, particularly those 
concerning the privacy and confidentiality of material, copying and 
quotation restrictions, and copyright issues. 

Consider brevity as a norm, but be prepared to reject it when it seems to 
work against substance. 

GENERATING PARTICIPATION— Motivating people to regularly and 
actively participate can be a problem, particularly because people sign on at 
their own convenience. Some mechanisms include: 

Extract an agreement about the expected frequency of signing-on. 
Perhaps at least three to four sessions a week. 

• Allow people time at the beginning to get comfortable. 

• Have a brainstorming session at the beginning to generate activity 
and record a variety of issues to be dealt with in slow time later. 

• Spell out and frequently repeat that active participation is 

• Develop the habit of regularly monitoring the membership status 

of the group. 

• Use private messages as reminders and for positive reinforcement. 

• Establish explicit expectations around deadlines particularly when 
input or consensus is required at one phase before the group can 
progress to the next. 

• Make explicit responses to contributions: because there are no non- 

verbal clues, it is important to be clear as to whether one agrees, 
disagrees, understands or otherwise. 

• Stress that the medium is informal - perfect typing and formal 
prepared speeches are less important than making one's meaning clear 

4-6 Participating in collaborative teaming 

Use techniques to keep interaction lively and stimulating: pose a question, 

bring up unexpected factual information, provide simple related games or 

simulations to promote involvement, take votes or use rating forms to 

stimulate involvement. 

Use anonymity to make an off the wall remark to stimulate discussion. 

Fade into the background when appropriate. 

Remind participants that earlier items are not set in concrete and are 

fair game for discussion. 

Consider breaking the group into sub-groups. 

Don't overload: contribute about one long comment a day to text based 

conferencing and facilitate rather than dominate the agenda in audio and 

video conferencing 

Keep up with who is contributing what. You may want to ask individuals 

with special interest in areas to "take charge" of that area. 

Don't lecture: too elaborate and too polished a sequence of comments 

produces silence • use open-ended remarks. 

Prompt frequently: use private messages to encourage participants to 

enter the discussion, to set up debates, and to solicit suggestions. 

Don't rely upon off-line materials: the conversation should be based on 

what is easily available to the participants. Be clear: begin with an opening 

comment that clearly states the purpose of the interaction and your 

expectations, and continue to clarify these as the conference progresses. 

Provide comments that weave the threads of the discussion every week or 

two;weaving comments help summarize the state of the interaction and 

what learning has occurred. 

Set up participant interaction which does and does not include you. You 

may want to facilitate independent sub-group activities which later pool 

their findings with the larger group. 

Take the initiative in establishing conference procedures: Procedural 

discussions on-line are frustrating and time-consuming, and often distract 

the group from its real purposes. 

Remember that discussion leaders generally contribute one 

quarter to one half of the on-line material. 

Participating in collaborative learning 4-7 


• The "side talker" uses only private messages. Encourage him to participate 

in the public forum. 

• The "heckler", the "complainer" and the "argumentative pair" can be 

moved into a side conference with you while you deal with them. 

• Put the "rambler" back on the topic in hand. 

• Explain to the group what the "incoherent person" has been trying to 
say, after checking with him first. 

• Thank the "eager beaver" for his participation, but suggest that other will 

have to catch up first. Connder giving him a specific task. 

• The "non-participant" is the most serious problem. Try to find out why 

they are not participating. Reluctance to express themselves? Discomfort 
with the medium? Insecurity in expressing thoughts? Have nothing to 
say? Hardware problems? 

• "Laggards" need help quickly before they fall too far behind 

• "Dropout*" need to be identified and minimized. Perhaps the first call is 

from "technical first-aid." 

• The victim of "information overload" needs help. Information overload 
is the cognitive cost of the medium 

Encourage use of system features such as filters, associations, keywords, 
alarms, reminder files, search and retrieval capabilities, and the 
conference index. 

Participating in oottaborativ* teaming 

4.3.4 Moderating Audio Teleconferencing 1 

Collaborative team work on a global scale is increasing within Digital as we enter the 1990s, 
and holding team meetings via teleconference is becoming the norm. Teleconferences build 
effective teams and enable efficient communication among geographically dispersed work 
groups. Pre-meeting planning and teleconference techniques will build successful 
teleconferences. The following guidelines will help the moderator who is engaging in 
specifically in audio teleconferencing. Pre-conferenclng coordination 

• Distribute meeting agenda. Include time lines to accomplish agenda 

within allotted time; build in Q&A time. 

• Distribute participant list including sites. 

• Distribute relevant text/print materials in advance. 

• Consider having all participants call into conference from their desks 
(rather than always using a speakerphone). This will equalize the group 
communication flow, minimizing potential "weTthey" feelings. Teleconferencing Techniques 

• Rely on AUDIO cues in the teleconference to replace the interpersonal 

visual cues: 

• Identify yourself when you speak Example: Hi, this is Alice 

Wellington at Virginia Road. 

• Speak to others by name. Example: Carl, what do you think of the 

new control system? 

• Express yourself in terms people can visualize. 

• Effective communication strategies for in-person meetings also 
work in a teleconference. Inclusive meeting behavior is key: 

• Begin the teleconference with a roll call of participants (equivalent 

to meeting introductions). Going site-by-site, ask each participant 
to identify themselves for the group. 

Participating in coNaborativ* teaming 4-0 

• Use printed material, meeting agenda and user list for reference. 
These can be transmitted on-line prior to each group session. 

• Consider appointing a group member to handle session protocols; the 

session leader is freed to concentrate on session purpose. 

• Acronyms or jargon often depend on context for their meaning. Spell them 

out and offer explanation to prevent confusion. This is particularly true 
with international groups. 

Stimulate interaction from all participants in a Q&A period; the 
leader or facilitator may call on each site round-robin-style. 

• Limit side conversations in group-to-group teleconferences. When short 

side conversations do occur, summarize the comments for all conference 
participants and invite feedback. 

Listening intently can bring on fatigue, loss of attention among 
participants. Interaction stimulates interest. So, vary the meeting's pace. 

• Limit presentations to 10 minute segments; follow with Q&A. 

Consider limiting the teleconference to 2 hours maximum length for one 

• Summarize, list action items, provide closure. Provldt text or visual support 

Encourage group interaction by providing text/visual materials to all 
participants before the session. 

• Refer to the materials during session; poll participants for comments. 

Do not refer to visual materials in the room (flip charts, white board, 
photos, etc.) that all members cannot see. Use fax where possible; 
exchange fax numbers beforehand. 

• For regularly scheduled conference calls requiring shared text or image, 
consider purchasing dedicated facsimile machines, freeze-frame video or 
imaging devices. 

For further information on teleconferencing systems and applications, contact 
Alice Wellington at the Teleconferencing Systems Group in Digital 
Telecommunications at DTK 273-5436 or OVRO. 

4-1 Participating in oottaborativ* baming 

4.4 Providing feedback is a shared responsibility of 

As part of a face to face group individuals are constantly reading the nonverbal 
communication such as gestures, facial express, voice tone,and change in body position. In 
essence, the communicators are monitoring the interaction looking for feedback that says 
"how things are going. " These feedback messages are both verbal and non-verbal. 
Communicators become accustomed to reading the nonverbal messages for level of 
understanding, agreement, or meaning that is shared among the participants in the 
interaction. In networked collaborative networked environments, participants develop 
special strategies for monitoring the interaction and the feedback. When nonverbal 
feedback is limited as in text-based CNL, special focus is placed on providing explicit 
feedback. However, participants can improve the quality of their messaging even when 
they have high fidelity communication such as video conferencing by focusing explicitly on 
providing feedback to each other. 

4.4.1 Eliciting and contributing feedback 

4.4.1 .1 Feedback on tht process 

David and Roger Johnson (1987) 1 suggest focusing feedback on the 
collaborative process as well as the specific content of the group effort. 

• Focus observation on the interaction of the group and its own 
processes. If the team is to continue to collaborate and grow as a 
group, it will need to focus on itself as a group. 

• Share observations on where the group is collectively and how 
individuals have contributed to that direction. 

• Direct group process observations to issues which will help improve 
their overall productivity and satisfaction. 

David W. Johmon and Rog.r T. Johnson Learning Together and AloneiCooperaiive, »nd ladfridnaJistk: 
learaing.Pr*ntic*-Hall, EngUwood Cliffs, N*w J«rs*y,pps.ll2,146, 166-168. 

Participating in collaborative learning 4-1 1 

4.4.1 .2 Feedback on the content messages 

While any participant may assume responsibility for eliciting feedback and confirming 
meaning from other participants, all members of the learning group share the respon- 
sibility for clarification and confirmation. Each individual participates actively to let others 
know their current level of understanding or acceptance. Based on their research 2 in group 
communication, David and Roger Johnson offer the following ground rules for effective 
feedback among individuals: 

• Give feedback as quickly as possible. Rather than allowing mis* 

understandings to multiple and continue through a series of exchanges, 
member check for understanding regularly. 

• Focus on description and personal interpretations of messages 
rather than judgment or evaluation. 

• Focus on the particular message or behavior of the participant 
rather than imagined personality traits. 

• Offer personal interpretations such as /perceive... "or I understand... " 

rather than impersonal such as " The general perception is " or "The 

level of understanding is " 

• Provide only the amount of information that can be meaningful at the 

time,rather than a dissertation. 

• Be specific and focused rather than general and abstract. It is 

meaningful within the present context of the group communication. 

4.5 Creating a context for learning 

For groups to engage in learning together for any period of time, attention needs to be 
devoted to maintenance of a context that shows acceptance and concern for the individual 
well being of the members. It is critically important to focus on socioemotional context of 
the interaction as well as the content. 

x Much of the available reaearch on effective feedback in human communication ia baaed on reaearch in 
human psychology and group interaction. This reaearch ia uaeful in understanding the basic ground rules for 
facilitation. Currant reaearch into the unique characteristics of electronic mediated enrironmenta are 
examining issues such aa the effect of delay and the organization and display of feedback meaaagea aa part 
of a communication system. Additional reaearch into the nature of feedback and interaction in networking 
learning groups ia needed. 

4-12 Participating in collaborative learning 

Often in networked environments, when the "clock is ticking", facilitation 
on the socioemotional level is ignored in favor of getting on with the task. 
Unfortunately, the task may be accomplished but the level of satisfaction 
with the media and group experience are perceived low. Individuals are 
consequently less willing to engage in similar networked experiences. 
Rice and Love in their study of "Electronic Emotion" 1 explain that it is 
perhaps the group norms, goals, and structure of the community of 
participants that influence the amount of socioemotional exchange. If for 
example, network use is restricted or oriented to exchanging task- 
oriented information only, its unlikely that a a cohesive group will 

4.5.1 Mutual exchange of trusting and trustworthy messages are 
essential to building context. 

When members feel that they trust each other, they will provide the vital 
communication necessary for all members to achieve understanding, 
higher task performance and greater productivity. 

• Foster a supportative environment in which individuals trust each 
other enough to express their views, to test out ideas and 
interpretations about how things work or should work, to inquire 
with others. 

• Maintain conscious attention to the development and maintenance of 
trust in a collaborative group. 

• Encourage mutual exchange of trusting and trustworthy messages. 

Johnson and Johnson (1986) 1 view the development of trust through 
a mutual exchange of trusting and trustworthy behaviors. Trusting 
behavior is defined as openly expressing thoughts, feelings, reactions, 
information,ideas and resources. Trustworthy behavior is defined as 
expressions of acceptance and high regard for the participants, 
expressions of support for the capabilities of members, and 
expressions that you are going to work with the other members of the 
group to achieve the group goals. 

Rio*, Ronald and Gall Lor*. 1987. "Electronic Emotion: Socioemotional Content in a Computer- 
Mediated Communication Network," Communication IUe«arch,February, Vol 14, No 1. pp. 86-108. 
1 David Johnson and Prank Johnaon. 1986. Joining; Together: Group Theory and Group Skills, 
Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. 

Participating in collaborative learning 4-13 

Groups where participation is ad hoc, of short life span, or when the group is created for 
limited information ezchange,Iess time and energy may be available or necessary for 
building and maintaining the high level of trust which is critical for success and 
participation of an on-going group. 

4.5.2 Personal Risk in Collaboration 

Participants share a certain degree of personal risk sending messages and providing 
feedback to one another. 

• Encourage and challenge members to risk reconstructing ideas and 

• Support the process by avoiding personal attacks. If an individual is 
constantly attacked, put down or told that they are wrong, that 
person will be less likely to continue to participate. Computer based 
notes conference participants generally attempt to discourage,/fa/ra'«g / 

As a measure of risk taking, members of a team are constantly 
asking and answering for themselves the question: " If I were to 
openly express myself, will what I say be used against me." A 
member of a learning group will not test out hypotheses about new 
strategies or attempt to check out what has been understood, if 
another member is waiting for others to make a "mistake" so that s/he 
can correct. 

4.52.1 Anonymous messages 

One way that text-based computer conferencing has developed for sharing risky ideas, is 
to provide for anonymous messaging. The message can be posted with the "FROM" 
portion of the message stripped off. When trust is low in a team,anonymous messaging 
can provide an opportunity for individuals to address sensitive issues. For instance, an 
anonymous message might help the group focus on its on 'process' at a time when no 
individual member felt comfortable owning the observation. 

Flaming i* • term popular among u*er* of computer ba*ed conferencing *y*tem* and bulletin board*. It 
refer* to pereonal attacks, put down*, and unfair 'Valuation* of other* and their idea*. When thi* 
occur* in a conferencing member* of the group will general attempt to diecourage the communication. 

4-1 4 Participating in collaborative kamiog Private messaging 

Another strategy is for groups members to establish themselves as a private group. In an 
intact group which is private, participants know that any messages shared will only be 
available to members of the group. If a person knew that only a trusted group of 
individuals would have access to the communication, then s/he would be more willing to 
express ideas openly. Restricted, closed groups are useful for increasing level of trust, 
and open dialog. However, the possibility of learning which might occur from open 
exchange with a variety of divergent opinions is lost when the group restricts access to the 
outside world. Both options are available in all forms of non broadcast electronic 
exchange. The decision is made based upon the purpose and desired outcomes of the 

Participating in coflaborativ* (warning 4-15 

4.6 Participation Check List 

A* a summary to this section of the handbook, I have included a listing of different types 
of messages which facilitate learning. Each successful CNL experience focuses on the 
effective use of these different messages. 

4.6.1 Facilitating messages for understanding 

The work of Dr. Mildred Shaw l is useful in helping to understand the 
types of messages that facilitate learning. As part of her work in 
personal construct psychology, Shaw hat identified different behaviors to 
help individuals to extend and understand their own thinking in 
networked groups. Participants need to focus on messages which 
facilitate the learning process in order to: 

• see the relationship of their points of view to those of others; 

• bridge the gap of using different terminology for the same mental 

• bridge the gap of different constructs being talked about using the 
same terminology; 

• extend their own construct systems through interaction with others; 

• share with others constructs that they have found valuable; and 

• investigate areas of disagreement or agreement among members of a 

Shaw, Mildred. 1987. ' 'Interactive Elicitation and Exchange of Knowledge in Group Problem 
Bolting," Paper preeenUd to th* Seventh International Congraaa on Perron Construct 
PeyeliologyJVIemphi«,T»nneeee«, Auguat 14-9,1987. 

4-16 Participating in coHaboratfv* teaming 

4.6.2 Providing relevant examples to learners 

The availability and accessibility of relevant examples is critical to the on-going learning 
process. However, the example must be of personal relevance. Relevance would result from 
one of of three conditions: 

• the facilitator understands the learner and the state of processing at the 

time well enough to provide relevant examples, 

the individual is aware of his current state and is able to request the required 

knowledge independently, or 

• the individual and the facilitator negotiate a strategy for discovery or 
uncovering the required information. 

One key advantage of message sharing in a networked environment is that collaborators 
theoretically have the possibility to draw on relevant information and knowledge from a 
wide range of sources, either from other participants directly in a synchronous channel such 
as through audio or video networks or through asynchronous channels such as CMC or by 
accessing information stored in a database. 

4.6.3 Paraphrasing for confirmation of understanding. 

It is important to provide ways for checking the perception and under- 
standing of the messages by all members of the group. Members often 
assume that they understand the intended meanings when in fact a shared 
meaning never occurs. 

One useful strategy which facilitates the collaboration process is checking 
understanding through active paraphrase. Johnson and Johnson 2 suggest 
that the use of paraphrase for perspective-taking can advance understanding 
and shared meaning in groups. This involves a process of constant checking 
and rechecking understanding of individuals and the members of the group 

as interaction progresses. Using messages such as "Are you saying " or 

"Let me see if I can summarize, how I see your point of view," the group 
moves toward shared meaning. Hie strategy of paraphrasing is designed to 
promote understanding rather than debate. The following guidelines have 
proven useful for facilitation through paraphrase: 

• restate the other person's messages in your own words, 
2 JohnMm, Dvrid and Frank P. Johnwm, p. 244 

Participating in coHaboratrv« learning 4-17 

• do not indicate disapproval or approval .offer advice or blame until 

the other person has acknowledged the accuracy of your 

• wait for a confirming message from the other person before proceeding 
with discussion of the issue,and 

• continue the paraphrasing process until confirmation is reached. 

4.6.4 Providing feedback to co-learners 

Feedback is crucial to the creation of meaning in a social context; it is the basic element of 
the process which allows learners to validate their knowledge with others. 

David and Roger Johnson (1987) l offer some general characteristics of 

• Effective feedback is as immediate as possible;rather than allowing 

misunderstandings to multiple and continue through a series of 
exchanges, members check for understanding regularly. 

• Effective feedback focuses on description and personal interpreta- 
tions of messages rather than judgment or evaluation. 

• Effective feedback focuses on the particular message or behavior of the 
participant rather than imagined personality traits. 

• Effective feedback is personal such as I perceive... or I understand... 

rather than impersonal such as The general perception is or The 

level of understanding is 

• Effective feedback provides only the amount of information that can be 

understood or is meaningful at the time,rather than a dissertation. 

• Effective feedback is specific and focused rather than general and 
abstract. It is meaningful within the present context of the group 

1 DtYid W. Johnson and Roger T. Johnson Learning- Together and AlonerCoop«ratire, Competitive, »ad 
IadiTida*U*tic U«rain«Pr«ntic*-H*]l, Englewood Cliffs, New J«rwj,pp«.112,146, 166-158. 

4-18 Participating in collaborative taming 

4.6.5 Providing feedback on group process 

One often neglected aspect of feedback is the collaborative process itself. The Johnson's 
suggest that members of a group who are attempting to engage in collaborative learning 
focus feedback on group process as well as the specific content of the group efforts. 

Participating in codaborative* learning 4-19